When I look back to my rookie days as a sports mom, I cringe at some of the early mistakes I made. I had no one in my life helping me to steer clear of those mistakes and so I barged forward, thinking I was doing what was best for my child. Instead, I was not helping at all.
Here are some rookie sports parenting mistakes I made in no particular order. By sharing them with you, I hope I can help you avoid them!
Mistake 1: I was Naive
I guess I thought everyone would be treated fairly, the coaches would be full of integrity and truly care about MY child, and that other parents would be reasonable like I am.
It didn’t take long to realize that my Pollyanna expectations were far from true. I began to see a culture where politics sometimes reigned, where coaches were not modeling what I felt they should to my kids, and where some parents suffered from tunnel vision when it came to their children.
Instead of going in naively, you must go in prepared to contend with the problems, and think your goals and standards through ahead of time.
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Mistake 2: I was Too Quick to Interfere
No parent likes to see their child struggle, feel hurt, or get frustrated. I was no different. On more than one occasion, I was quick to trash talk a coach and in some cases, confront them about my child’s lack of playing time.
The irony of it was that my kids never wanted me to interfere. I did it out of a sense of helplessness because I wanted to make things better for them, so they could be happy. But inserting myself into a process that brings growth is not what my kids needed. I’m glad I learned to stop interfering.
Mistake 3: I was Sucked into Spending
Let me just say right now that once you get into youth sports, there are all kinds of organizations that will make money off of you - and it’s very easy to think you need all of them.
You don’t! Be choosy about your spending. What does your child really need? What are their long-term goals and what do they really need to achieve them?
Mistake 4: I Didn’t Talk to My Kids About Regrets
My 27-year-old son still talks about the fact that he quit baseball after 5th grade. We actually told him he had to choose between spring baseball and spring travel basketball and he chose basketball. We didn’t think much about it at the time, but perhaps we could have done a better job of talking it through with him. We could have asked questions like: How do you think you will feel in a couple of years if you’re not playing baseball? Which sport gives you the greatest enjoyment and how long do you think you’d like to play it?
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Mistake 5: I Let Youth Sports Take Over Our Lives Way Too Soon
My kids enjoyed sports and wanted to be involved in everything. We were so happy to see them active and doing things they liked that we said yes a lot, even when they were little. Unfortunately, it’s hard to scale back once you’ve set that lifestyle in motion and so we faced many years of having youth sports take over our lives.
Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing to have your kids play sports all the time, but I think we let it dictate more than it should have.
Mistake 6: I Did Not Think Long-Term
It’s not surprising that rookie sports parents are not thinking of the big picture or of long-term results from their youth sports experience. They are just looking for something to keep their kids active and busy.
But the danger for many parents is to be so caught up in today, that they are not parenting for tomorrow. I know I wasn’t at first. But the more I parented my athletes, the more I saw the value of what they were learning, and I knew that it could affect them for life if I kept the big picture in mind as I parented.
Mistake 7: I Thought My Child ALWAYS Needed Me There
While it’s true that I usually stuck around for practices - mostly because my kids were little and I didn’t want to drive back and forth - the honest truth is that as your kids get older, you must face the fact that they really don’t need you there 24/7.
This is true for games too. They will be okay if you can’t make it. They really will.
I hated to miss my kids’ games because I loved watching them play, but when I did, they were fine. Your kids are stronger than you think and if you can’t make a game or can’t sit through practice, they will survive just fine.
Do any of these mistakes hit home for you? If so, here’s what you need to know: mistakes are for learning. That is not just a phrase that you should tell your kids; it applies to you too! As long as you see the error and grow from it, your kids will not suffer because of it.